News Briefs

Meeting on March 20 with steelworkers in Terni, Italy, Pope Francis said solidarity is too often treated as “a dirty word,” yet the only way out of the global financial crisis is to put people first. • The new Muslim mayor of Nazareth, Ali Sallam, said on March 17 that it was his “greatest desire” that the feast of the Annunciation be proclaimed an official civic holiday “for all Nazareth.” • Police in Sri Lanka have on March 18 released two outspoken Catholic human rights activists whose arrests raised international alarms, Ruki Fernando and the Oblate priest Praveen Mahesan. • Helen O’Brien, chief executive of England’s Caritas Social Action Network, criticized the chancellor’s new budget, complaining “once again we’ve heard promises to help struggling families through tax and childcare measures, [while a] significant reduction in support for the poorest people continues.” • Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, visited Guatemala in March to inaugurate a complex of houses and a chapel for 19 families who were left homeless after a devastating hurricane struck the nation in 2011.

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